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No. 9 Penn State Hockey Falls To No. 11 Minnesota 4-1 In Season Opener

No. 9 Penn State hockey (0-1-0) dropped its first game of the season to No. 11 Minnesota (1-0-0) at 3M Arena Thursday night.

Kevin Wall scored the only goal of the game for the Nittany Lions, while the rest of the offense couldn’t put any past Minnesota goalie Jack LaFontaine.

Oskar Autio started off the game hot, but was unable to carry the Penn State defense after the first period with 24 saves on 28 shots.

How It Happened

The first period was an uneventful period of hockey. Both teams exited the period with eight shots on goal and 18 shots attempted. Oskar Autio stood on his head for most of the period by making two glove saves on quality scoring chances from Minnesota.

The second period was a different story. Play went back-and-forth to begin the period until the first Minnesota goal made the game wide open at 5:22 in the second period. The ice quickly tilted towards the Golden Gophers. Minnesota then put a loose puck past Oskar Autio to extended its lead to 2-0 just five minutes later at 10:16 in the second period.

The ice stayed tilted towards the Golden Gophers after the second goal. Both teams registered 11 shots in the second period, but Minnesota led in scoring chances by a significant margin. Oskar Autio was able to stay strong for the remainder of the period, and sophomore Kevin Wall finally got the Nittany Lions on the board with just 27 seconds left in the second period to cut the Minnesota lead to 2-1.

After a huge goal late in the second, Penn State came out of the second intermission looking sluggish, spending too much time in their own zone. It didn’t take long for Minnesota to take advantage of Penn State’s sloppy play, as the Golden Gophers scored from a scramble in front of the net at 3:53 in the third period to give Minnesota a 3-1 lead.

Minnesota kept the pressure on the Nittany Lions while extending its lead to 4-1 at 9:17 in the third period after a questionable hand pass. Despite having two power plays after that, Penn State still couldn’t get much going.

The Nittany Lions pulled Oskar Autio with just over six minutes left in the third period, but Minnesota goalie Jack LaFonatine stood on his head to close out the Nittany Lions and secure a 4-1 victory for the Golden Gophers.

Takeaways

  • After an uneventful first period, the Nittany Lions looked like they couldn’t keep up with Minnesota throughout the game. The team came out of both intermissions looking sluggish and started both periods with sloppy play.
  • The defense didn’t play too well in front of Oskar Autio tonight. Despite only facing 28 shots, Autio was forced to make too many difficult saves to keep the Nittany Lions in the game. Minnesota was easily able to move the puck around Penn State’s defense.
  • Oskar Autio did his best to give Penn State a chance to win. Following in the footsteps of Peyton Jones, Autio looked hot in the first period. Despite letting two goals up in the second period, Autio stood on his head to not let Minnesota build off that lead. Things began to fall apart in the third, but, overall, Autio looked like he’s going to have a promising season.

What’s Next?

Penn State faces Minnesota at 3M Arena again Friday night, and continues its opening road trip to Madison to take on the Wisconsin Badgers next Monday night.

Puck drop is slated for 4 p.m. Friday evening, as Penn State will try to leave Minnesota with a win under its belt.

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About the Author

Frankie Marzano

Frankie is a sophomore accounting and economics major from Long Island, NY. You can probably recognize him as the typical Italian-American with slicked back black hair. He is an avid fan of the Rangers, Jets, Mets, and any Penn State athletics team. Follow him on Twitter @frankiemarzano for obnoxious amounts of Penn State and Rangers content.

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